Yesterday around 2pm I found myself in a taxi heading towards the market to catch the bus to go back to my village. Low on cash and exhausted, I figured it was for the best to leave Apia Saturday instead of Sunday. Then in an instant, it all changed. As I was approaching my final destination, the Australian rugby team passed by heading towards their match in Apia Park. I was caught in a moment of limbo, and then instantaneously asked the taxi to turn around: when will I ever have the opportunity to watch the Manu Samoa play live again? It was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I could not miss!
I raced back to the office where I found Elise and Matt getting ready to go to the game. Remembering there was blue face paint in the office, I asked Elisa if she would paint my face, and then I painted hers. We raided the offices “free box,” and were soon geared up and ready to go cheer on our team!
Walking to the game which was to take place about a mile down the road from our office, we found ourselves loaded with excitement and anticipation. The street was filled with others decked out in their white and blue Manu gear, all heading to THE place to be.
We arrived at the stadium, which felt like entering another world. High, clean bleachers surrounded a pristine field. Samoan flags waved in the wind, and the bleachers, packed with fans, seemed to sway as the ocean of blue danced and sang.
The game began and I quickly realized that I do not know the rules of rugby. I met an Australian woman who tried to explain it to me, but ultimately, we were both at a loss. Here is what I took out of the game:
1. Samoans are incredibly quiet spectators, until a “touch” is made.
2. Rugby is WAY more intense than American football – they do not wear padding of any kind!
3. The players throw themselves at one another, sometimes being dragged across the field – their laundry bills must be high!
4. The ball can bounce off the ground without going out of play.
5. The kickers would make great NFL kickers as they kick from seemingly impossible angles.
6. The team does NOT always do the Haka. Too bad!!
Overall, I am incredibly happy with my decision to stay for the game. I felt like I was witnessing some great feat of human power watching those teams battle it out. In the end, THE MANU SAMOA WON!! All in all, it was a great day!